****SIGN THE PETITION HERE. READ BELOW TO LEARN MORE.****
Dear Superintendent Dr. McLaughlin, and members of the board, Dr. Connolly, Mrs. Phelps, Mr. Andersen, Mr. Dunn and Mrs. Everett,
I'm writing to you, asking that you respectfully take the time to listen to the community when they show up to speak and consider the manner in which you’ve addressed the alternative assignment policy thus far.
In October, the board agreed upon and voted upon a process that included the following in attempts of formalizing a written policy for requesting alternative assignments:
Additionally, while Mr. Dunn expressed strong desire for Mrs. Everett to write and submit her own policy, Mrs. Everett very verbally denied having any interest in doing so, indicating she would rather work with a committee.
So, here are the events that transpired in the aftermath of that board meeting:
During Tuesday’s board meeting, the board sat silently and watched as non-CVUSD residents that were recruited from extremist groups affiliated with, at the very least, Mrs. Everett (we all know about the speaking engagement Mrs. Everett abruptly cancelled amidst negative backlash titled: SAVING OUR CHILDREN’S MINDS: FIGHTING THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM) heckled teachers and students from the CVUSD.
The board, and more importantly, the board president, made no attempt to dissuade the booing and comments shouted at students (of whom they insist they’re here to protect), while rewarding those speakers — whose agenda aligned with their own — extra time. In receiving feedback on how the meeting was managed, the board president has painted Mrs. Everett as the victim in this situation, undermining the teachers and students who were severely disrespected by not only extremists in attendance, but by board members themselves who did not call for order when witnessing the way students were being treated.
Mrs. Everett’s policy not only covers language on the formalization of a procedure for requesting alternative assignments (which was supposed to be the ONLY purpose of the policy), it extends far beyond this… providing language and clearing a pathway to introduce new criteria for the selection and review process of curriculum, in addition to extending beyond core lit, into supplemental materials and beyond.
Mrs. Everett’s defense of her policy hinges heavily on her reliance of the CDE’s annotations in order to “inform” (*cough* scare) parents about the content of the books on the syllabus. The policy asks for warning labels on syllabi, warnings sent via email to parents, and warnings expressed verbally during back-to-school nights. Additionally it requests that certain books be asterisked if they have “mature” content. I’m looking for some clarity on the use of CDE annotations for the backbone of this policy considering Mrs. Everett’s guest column in the Acorn (I guess high jacking Tuesday’s meeting time wasn’t enough) in which she strongly states she ran on a platform of parent choice/input (apparently Mrs. Everett isn’t aware that people have access to published Q&A interviews and video footage of answers she gave on the topic of curriculum, special interest influence, and teachers’ expertise — in which she is a heavy advocate for trusting the teachers in our district).
If this really is a conversation about parent choice (and the argument that parents know best), why does this policy stop the buck at the CDE’s recommendations? My understanding is that the CDE has a committee that annotates these books (or looks over annotations once submitted). In fact, anyone can submit a book to the CDE website, along with a requested annotation, which is then evaluated and either accepted or denied by the committee.
I'm curious as to why there is a difference of respect shown toward a CDE annotation committee versus a district curriculum committee. Do the members that make up the CDE committee have more expertise? More training? More education?
If this really is about parent choice/input why even bother weighting opinions from one educational committee/organization versus another? This would seem to void the entire basis for the “let parents parent” theme heavily present from extremist groups at the meeting on Tuesday.
The insistence of including the annotation from the CDE is essentially saying: we trust the CDE committee but we don't trust our own curriculum committee. And I'd like to know what the real differences are, especially if the sticking point is that it should be parent choice/involvement. Why are the pro-parent choice people not also questioning the CDE's expertise and experience?
It’s quite apparent that on any given number of topics there will always be strong divide, thus putting the board between a rock and a hard place in appeasing everyone. It should be understood that decisions can’t please everyone. With that in mind, decisions should always make sure the end result is that we are doing what is best for the students and their education. Allowing special interest groups to influence decisions is irresponsible, and quite frankly, inappropriate. The board has a responsibility to respect the law and standards set forth regarding any decisions that affect our public school education. The law regarding opt-out policy exists to protect our students from exactly this. A board with rogue extremists who prefer to write and vote in policy based on their personal agendas of “traditional family morals” and personal definitions of “controversial” is not a board that puts students first.
As a life-long CVUSD resident, who attended public school here, and who will have children attending public school here, I am asking that you respect the community enough to, at the very bare minimum, follow through on the promises you made regarding the discussion and process that was voted upon in order to make this decision regarding curriculum.
As much as you want to focus on protecting parent rights, you have a right to protect students in your district from damaging policy that affects the quality of their education. The students are counting on you. The teachers, who will be affected by this policy are counting on you. Please don’t let them down.
PS: WANT TO GET INVOLVED ON THIS ISSUE? THE VOTE IS TUESDAY! ACT NOW if you are a Conejo Valley Resident:
IF YOU ARE A CONEJO VALLEY RESIDENT:
SIGN THE PETITION THAT WILL BE SENT TO BOARD MEMBER JON ANDERSEN.
1) Sandee Everett's proposed policy
2) Committee policy (the one the board doesn't want you to see)
3) Excellent Editorial in the Acorn summarizing issue